‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’: Marc Webb Explains Approach to Comedy, Spider-Sense, and Classic Comic Elements
Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by Russ Fischer
A couple days ago Sony previewed about 20 minutes of footage from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and director Marc Webb answered a few questions afterward. The sequences previewed included roughly the first ten minutes from studio logos to the culmination of the big car chase seen in trailers, then the big Times Square fight between Spidey (Andrew Garfield) and Electro (Jamie Foxx), and finally a sequence teased in today’s final trailer, in which Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) pleads with Electro.
Below, read Webb’s non-spoiler talk about six key elements of the film, including his tease about the big group of comedians brought in to punch up the film’s jokes.
All the block quotes below come from Webb, sourced from the post-footage Q&A. As for the footage, I’m going to refrain from a big description, but I’ll say that I was impressed by the technique in the Times Square battle. The sense of scale and motion have been greatly enlarged from the first film, and Spidey moves in a more intuitive, expressive manner. This does look like a very digital enterprise, though that early car chase (involving our first view of the Rhino) features a pile-up of cop cars big enough to be referred to on set as the “Blues Brothers” sequence.
Now, here’s Webb.
Classic Spider-Man elements that we didn’t see in the first film are going to creep in to this and subsequent films.
The big thing that I wanted to nail this time was the suit. I wanted to return to the iconography that we knew from the comic books. And the Daily Bugle is an emerging force to be reckoned with. That’s one of the fun things about delving into a universe like this is that you can take more time with these things. we really did think about this in a longer format, things like the Daily Bugle and Norman Osborn’s story we’ve been very selective about how to tease that out.
A collection of well-known comedians helped write Spidey’s jokes and quips, but we don’t know who they were… yet.
One of the iconic parts of the character — which we chose to embrace even in the first movie, as in that scene in the parking lot — something fundamental about Spider-Man is his wit and his quips. But it’s also part of his character. It’s how he provokes villains in particular, it’s how he puts them on their heels. I think with Rhino it’s particularly convenient because he’s such a dumb villain, that he can provoke them in that way.
We always try to think about the nature of the scene and the nature of the character, that’s where the comedy emerges. We did something that sometimes big comedy movies do, which is to get a big roundtable of comedians, and just have them spit jokes out. We would use that and try them out with Andrew [Garfield], see what works. At the beginning of the process we got some of the best comedians — it’s sort of like a private thing, I can’t tell you who’s in it, but we had an amazing group of really brilliant comedians, many of whom are comic book fans, come in and help us with jokes and one-liners and quips that are part of spider-man’s universe.
The film features some close-up slo-mo sequences which help visualize Peter’s “spider-sense,” as an extension of the first film’s POV ideas.
It is about the audience feeling what Spider-Man feels, which is where the point of view shots came from in the first movie. It’s a philosophy of filmmaking, it’s trying to get people as closely aligned to what Peter Parker and Spider-Man experience as possible. That was a cinematic type of language that I wanted to use to induce that feeling. What’s spider-sense? What’s the visual representation of spider-sense? It happens in a split second, he’s aware of impending physical trauma or violence and, yes, he’s able to react to that. That seemed like the way to do it. It’s part of a bigger thing, which is I want the audience to feel what Spider-Man feels.
The characters have moved beyond high school.
Listen, our actors are getting a little bit older. To play around with that for too long would get to be absurd. we’re also trying to find stations in life, important moments for them to emerge from. we did spend the whole first movie in high school. this is not that much further in their future, but to be honest there’s a thematic resonance with people moving on, with graduation, that felt very potent to us. the graduation speech was a way to introduce the themes of the movie in an interesting way and it just felt right. they were getting to that age. again, it’s about a gradual teasing of information that felt appropriate.
Despite Shailene Woodley originally being cast in the role, Mary Jane Watson was never going to be a large part of the film.
There was a tiny little tease that we omitted. It was uneventful.
As the trailers suggest, we’ll discover the identity of that guy from the very end of The Amazing Spider-Man. Is it Norman Osborn? Webb isn’t saying.
Yes [we reveal who that man is]. Norman Osborn, played by Chris Cooper, is an interesting component, but I don’t want to… we have to be very careful about what we reveal. We get a lot of flak for talking about too many things, but we have to enthuse people to see the movie. In keeping with trying to make that cinematic experience for everyone at home really special I’m going to withhold that answer.
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